Monday, November 27, 2006

Ecuador election postmortem

Initial results suggest that Rafael Correa won by a wide margin in Ecuador (he won 57% of the vote or even higher). We will, of course, have all sorts of articles about how he’ll cozy up to Hugo Chávez and fight the power.

This would ignore the fact that for the runoff he moved to the center, and toned down the radical rhetoric (even toward the United States). The message he sent was more populist, with promises of bonuses, housing, and other payments that would presumably be based on the current high price of oil. We’ll have to wait and see whether he governs like the traditional left or a more mainstream populist (or some sort of mixture).

Perhaps the most problematic for democracy will be the resistance he will face in the legislature, with the lack of a loyal opposition, though this will obviously depend on what types of reforms he attempts. That plagued recent presidents (including a military ouster) and may be similar to the situation in Bolivia, where the opposition recently exited the Senate to ensure that a quorum was unobtainable and thereby prevent votes on President Morales’ more controversial measures. In both countries, the president has expressed a desire to place more power in the hands of the president (or, in the Bolivian case, eliminate the Senate altogether). Neither solution (blocking every presidential proposal or moving toward hyperpresidentialism) is good for democracy.


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